Author Topic: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?  (Read 903 times)

ChpBstrd

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Can anyone help with the following dilemma?

The kid:
3 y/o girl. Has known the entire alphabet since ~ 2nd birthday. Happy and well-adjusted with long-term friendships at daycare.

Status quo daycare:
Cost $7400/yr.
No breaks.
Very Montissori-influenced, but don't claim it.
Teachers have high school educations and sometimes use double-negatives. Our daughter also brings home antiquated values about gender roles and the value of being pretty or getting compliments on her clothing. We also are unsure about the value of their programs - lots of handprint art. They watch cartoons on an ipad after class before pickup. Lots of outdoor play time though. We have to take our own food because their menu is mostly processed junk foods.

Montissori daycare:
Cost $9000/yr.
Week-long breaks each semester. We'd have to find babysitters at those times.
Obvious professionalism and progressivism from teachers who have bachelor's degrees. The main downsides are cost, adding 10 min to our commute, and causing our daughter to never see her friends again. Also the playground sucks. Not sure how we would manage during the breaks.

So would you change schools? Is the cost, extra commute time, and hassle worth the better educational approach?

deborah

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2017, 10:42:47 PM »
I'm not sure it's a better education approach. My niece and nephew went to Montessori. She thrived, he was put off schooling for years afterwards. When she left to go to school, she did much better, and from being thrilled with the Montessori school, her parents became a lot more negative about it. It was a primary school, and she was there until grade 4.

However, two daycare centres can have better/worse education approaches. It appears from what you have said that the status quo one is good, and the other one may be better, but from what you've said, is actually worse. I'd leave her where she is.



Ricksun

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2017, 06:31:57 AM »

Not even adding the cost, commute and issues you'll have in week-long breaks, you've found an environment that is working - stick with it.  It sounds like the negatives are minor and can be resolved at home.

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Laura33

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2017, 06:44:47 AM »
The most important question is whether your kid is happy where she is.  At 3, it's all about socialization and playtime; with educated and involved parents at home, the rigor of the "curriculum" is largely irrelevant.  I would prioritize the excellent playground above the academics.   

That also means don't freak about the gender roles or double negatives.  The parents are the most powerful influence in any kid's life; the kids will learn from you what their place is in society and what really matters.  If the teachers are caring and provide an appropriate level of supervision, that's awesome.  [My DS' K teacher apostrophized all of her plurals.  Drove me batshit crazy (daughter of English professor = shouldn't a public school teacher be, you know, literate?).  But it was K, and she was sweet, and my DS doted on her, so I let it go]  And, really, it's not like you can shield your kid from values you disagree with, you know?  My kid was told she's going to hell by another kid at daycare, because she's Jewish and therefore hadn't accepted Jesus into her heart -- that's just life, and it's stuff you're going to need to learn to deal with [and, yeah, she was a little upset, but she mostly came home rolling her eyes at the guy].  It's all a "teaching opportunity." 

So I'd say if the kid is happy where she is, why mess with it?  Just keep an eye on her, and if things change, you can consider it then.  We sent DD to Montessori because it was a great fit for her personality, and for my own beliefs in how small kids learn.  But then in 1st grade it morphed into Asian Prep Academy, and the pressure really got to her and scarred her on school, so we yanked her.  But as long as the kid is happy and safe, that's all that matters.
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ChpBstrd

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2017, 07:20:27 AM »
Yea, part of me feels like we're looking at fixing something that's not broken. I have a 3yo who's hitting the developmental milestones of a 5yo and thinking about firing her teachers.

Yet another part of me looks at the strong correlations between high quality early childhood education and academic achievement later in life and says an investment now might pay big dividends later. If I'd like to see my daughter take an interest in STEM careers rather than fashion and makeup, I have to make a choice about the culture we consume now. Plus, I think teaching should be a middle-class profession, so why not put my money where my mouth is?

Then again, maybe the whole montissori branding thing is more about impressing adults. Maybe the shelves holding baskets containing natural objects and hand-carved toys don't teach a preschooler anything they can't learn in the playground mulch or under the tree. Maybe we invest the extra 10 min commute time in two more bedtime books each night and come out ahead educationally? Maybe we go into public kindergarten with an extra $6-7k in the bank and family life is a bit less stressed. IDK.

zhelud

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2017, 09:05:57 AM »
Speaking from personal experience- I'd go with the Montessori option. We were able to put our younger son in our public school's Montessori preschool program at age 3. What a world of difference from our older son's experience at our old daycare. The Montessori teacher quality was superb. The additional teacher education requirements really do make a difference. (I don't think it even matters what curriculum they use- Montessori or not. It's all about teacher quality.)
Since by that time we were on the public school schedule anyway with our older son, we already had to time our vacations with school vacations, so that wasn't an issue.
Just an opinion. 

Vindicated

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2017, 09:22:58 AM »
We have our Son in a Montessori school (he's 2.5 and been there since 1.5), and he seems to be thriving.  Would he be any worse off if he was at the cheap church-run daycare which he attended from birth to 1.5?  No way to know for sure.

Would he be able to set his place at a small table, clear off his dishes afterwards, and understand emotions as well?  I don't think so.  Montessori does a really good job of those things, and more, while the church-run daycare was just a room full of toys with adult supervision.

We pay more than $9000/yr though.  His school costs $1025/mo.

About the breaks, my Son's school typically offers "wrap-around care", where you can still take him to school, but it costs a little extra.
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secondcor521

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2017, 09:44:13 AM »
Yet another part of me looks at the strong correlations between high quality early childhood education and academic achievement later in life and says an investment now might pay big dividends later. If I'd like to see my daughter take an interest in STEM careers rather than fashion and makeup, I have to make a choice about the culture we consume now.

I'm not an expert, but I think parents have the greatest influence on their children's careers, not their pre-K teachers.  You can talk positively about STEM careers, find and introduce your daughter to examples of strong women in STEM, and so forth.  Also, at least in the case of my three kids (one a Montessori-educated teenage girl interested in STEM stuff), they all are figuring out their career choices from age 15-20+.  I don't think any damage done by either school with respect to your daughter's career choices would require any serious effort on your part to reverse.
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Laura33

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2017, 10:11:13 AM »
Yet another part of me looks at the strong correlations between high quality early childhood education and academic achievement later in life and says an investment now might pay big dividends later. If I'd like to see my daughter take an interest in STEM careers rather than fashion and makeup, I have to make a choice about the culture we consume now.

With respect to the first, I strongly suspect the correlation is due to the fact that the "quality" of early childhood education you can afford is generally based on your socioeconomic status, which, as we all know, is the single factor that is most strongly correlated with academic performance/test results.  IOW, the kids who get to go to that quality daycare are the kids who are already largely set up to do well in school; you're assuming it's the quality of the daycare that makes the difference, but given how strong the correlation is between academic performance and socioeconomic status, I wouldn't leap to that result.  I think quality daycare makes the biggest difference with kids who don't have many advantages at home.  That's not your kids.

With respect to the second, no, no you don't.  You are really, truly undervaluing your own impact on your kids  (which, btw, is 100% totally normal, when they are so little and vulnerable and impressionable and it seems like the whole world is giving them bad messages).  My DD was the world's biggest princess at 4, and there just are no words -- I'm a liberal feminist, so, boy, she couldn't have picked anything worse to my mind -- OMG, it signifies all of the horrible focus on looks and passivity and consumer culture and she'll be ruined!!!  Yeah, not so much.  She is 16 now.  Her nickname is the "Commander," and I couldn't have picked a better one; she currently wants to be a doctor or engineer, and next year is taking AP Calc, AP Physics, and 2 engineering classes; and I am completely convinced that she will rule the world some day.  Oh:  and she hates pink. 

You want to influence your kids, show them all the stuff you geek out over!  Let daycare be daycare -- and then spend that extra time at home with your kids playing Legos or Minecraft or Snapcircuits or RC airplanes or woodworking or whatever else you think is cool.  Little kids think that there is nothing better in the world than to play something (age-appropriate) that their mom and dad think is just the best, most fun thing ever.  And if you are worrying about gender roles, I guarantee your kids are watching what you do far, far more than they are listening to some generic daycare lady -- so have them help mom mow the lawn and dad cook dinner and everyone clean the house together and all that stuff.
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GizmoTX

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2017, 10:15:26 AM »
Be sure to check out how Montessori the school is -- they're not all equal.

Our son started in an accredited Montessori school in the mornings at 3 years old & transitioned to a full day his K year. His learning & peer group experiences were amazing. The multi-sensory approach really allows children to learn in a physical way as well as seeing & hearing. Our son was doing long division with manipulatives in his K year. I would do this again for any child -- early education sets the stage for future learning. However, I also agree that parent involvement is essential; we read to our son daily even after he learned to read, because he could understand what he heard far beyond what he could read.

However, there's more to our experience. We decided to continue his elementary grade education at this school because it had been so successful for him, but while it put children from grades 1-3 into one classroom, we didn't realize that it shifted from pure Montessori to 'Writing to Read' & other non-Montessori methods. By 2nd grade, our son was miserable & didn't look forward to going to school any more, even though we knew he was intelligent & there were no health issues. Montessori schools typically don't grade & we were assured everything was OK. We knew better. He could not write more than a sentence or two, & it was illegible. We applied at another school for feedback, but it rejected him because he tested at barely early 1st grade math even though he could read at least 5th grade -- the difference was too great. At this point, we had him professionally tested. Bingo. Dyscalculia (math) & dysgraphia (writing). Our son was terrified that we'd find out how 'stupid' he was, & the bullying had already started. His school seemed to have no clue that LD exists, & we eventually learned of other peers with similar issues at this school, but sadly they were diagnosed years later.

We transferred our son to a private school that only takes LD children from grades 1 - 12. This school provided emphasis on organizational skills while ironically incorporating Montessori multi-sensory techniques that his previous school had stopped in its elementary classes. We were concerned that material might be dumbed down but instead the school uses multiple choice & other short answers in place of writing assignments. By 5th grade, students learned keyboarding, which allows thoughts to be more quickly captured than handwriting. DS stayed in this school through 8th grade & was able to transfer to a mainstream college prep school with accommodations for using a laptop for note taking & 50% extra time on exams. He graduated in 2016 from a top 100 university with degrees in Electrical Engineering & MATHEMATICS, Cum Laude, in 4 years, & last May with his MSEE. I believe early education & intervention is essential.

mm1970

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2017, 10:47:24 AM »
I would recommend switching at some point.

I have two boys.  They were both in home daycares.

The older one was in a daycare much like your daughter's (except for the double negatives).  Lots of outdoor time.  Some TV in the afternoons.  Lots of play.  A mixture of very healthy food and some junk.  We had him in there, and he enjoyed it, until he was 3.5.  Then he got 2 years of preschool before kindergarten.  More academic, but still fun.  (Warning though he was bored in kindergarten, because not all kids had preschool.)

Kid #2 also home daycare.  Play based and fun, slightly more educational.  Way healthier food.  More qualified teacher, much nicer art and projects.  More expensive but definitely worth it.  Left him in daycare for 4 years, and he's right now finishing out his 1 year of preschool before kindergarten.  I guess technically, he's only getting 10.5 months of preschool.  I gather that he was "behind" when he started preschool, because it's a very upper middle class, academic preschool.  But by 2/3 of the way through the year, he'd caught up and passed most of the kids.  Still lots of outdoor time, but maybe not as much as kid #1.

So I would say that before kindergarten, yes you should switch.  When though, that is the question.  Advantage of 2 years is that she'll make new friends.  Disadvantages, you already know.  Advantage of 1 year, she keeps her friends a year.  Disadvantage, might be harder to make new friends in a year, if friendships are established in Montessori.

Breaks: one of the things that I liked about home daycare is fewer breaks, and they are scheduled at the beginning of the year.  One of the things that I didn't like about Montessori (which we didn't use) is that they have four 4-week breaks.

For kid #1, his preschool had a month-long break in June/July every summer.  We would take a vacation for one of the weeks.  The rest of the time: one of the teachers at the preschool did a daycare/ preschool at her house for 3 weeks (for pay).  Another summer a different teacher's daughter was home from college, and we hired her as a nanny for the week. If you ask around, you may be able to find students/ nannies/ to cover during those weeks.  Some areas of the country have camps.

Basically, my husband and I eventually started splitting the days for random days off.  Kindergarten will get worse, not better.  For years we tried to maintain the illusion of full time jobs, with after school care, no sports, and only choosing summer and winter camps (like YMCA camps) that were full day, 8 to 5 or 6. 

Splitting the days means we either
- alternate days off with the kids, or maybe share that with friends
- each work half day for the full week.  "Half day" because we have flexible jobs, means we can each work about 5.5 hours, so we need to use less vacation time overall.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 10:52:34 AM by mm1970 »

englishteacheralex

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2017, 11:02:08 AM »
Few parents like to hear this, but I am of the opinion that genes trump all. In the long run, apples rarely fall far from trees.

Yep, I read a book that backed up this opinion that I already had--Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids--which cited several twin/adoption studies proving that in the long term, parenting strategies don't really have much of an impact on the adults that children become.

As an adopted person, I can verify this. My parents did their best to turn me into a mini-version of them and I came out just like the data I have on my biological family, who I've never met. Adopted family=stockbrokers and accountants. Biological family=farmers, teachers, principals, and strongly musical.

Lifelong interest in music, here. Became a passionate career educator. No one in my adopted family is like this and they were all very discouraging about it.

I didn't get the data on my biological family until my mid-twenties and it was pretty crazy. Also, my adopted family are atheist and from the Northeast. My biological family are Baptist and Quakers, strongly religious, and from the south.

I was raised atheist, with my adopted family expressing skepticism at every turn at organized religion. They were scandalized when I became a Christian at 26. I'm now fairly religious, a longtime member of a Protestant church, and happily married to a Southerner from a Baptist family.

So you were just trying to pick a good preschool for your kid, and I'm unloading a bunch of anecdata on you. Personally, I have a three year old at a Catholic Montessori preschool that costs $1055/month. Why'd we pick it? Because it's a block away from our condo. The fact that the place is freakin' amazing is a happy coincidence. I have no illusions at all that it's going to turn my kid Catholic or make him a genius.

HOWEVER, I DO think that parenting strategies can make a big difference in the immediate lifestyle of a family/child. In the longterm, the kid will probably revert back to biology. But routines and responsibilities at school can translate into a more peaceful home life, if parents are consistent with stuff going on at school. My kid picks up his toys like a boss. Thanks, Montessori school!
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ChpBstrd

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2017, 02:44:09 PM »
I guess I'm trying to figure out if I should mentally categorize this school as a luxury product or as an investment. Yes, genetics and home life play a role, and yes, at this age they're mostly playing, but in theory at least, we would get something from the Montissori school that's not available at the status quo school. In theory, this something would or would not outweigh the costs, inconveniences, and disruption. My problem is that the benefit is intangible and immeasurable. Even if I found a study showing that an upgrade from a "B" school to an "A" school is associated with x% higher acheivement, those results would not necessarily predict our outcome because predicting single outcomes is not how statistics work.

If we don't upgrade, we can apply the extra time and money in other positive ways. I was already planning to start working with her on phonics/pre-reading and we're already saving for her college in a 529. This move would take resources away from those activities.

This dilemma is a rabbit hole of complexity and squishy conceptual values.

okits

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2017, 08:59:36 PM »
Our daughter also brings home antiquated values about gender roles and the value of being pretty or getting compliments on her clothing.

They watch cartoons on an ipad after class before pickup.

We have to take our own food because their menu is mostly processed junk foods.

So would you change schools? Is the cost, extra commute time, and hassle worth the better educational approach?

Yes, I would switch.  Those three things would drive me fucking crazy.  Shitty food and being babysat by an iPad?  Those are only for when a kid's own parents are desperate and at the end of their ropes. ;)

It does depend if $1600 is a lot of money to you. 

I believe genetics and childhood exposure matter.  Look at that thread of Mustachians who grew up in poverty.  Some common themes crop up that convince me that what a kid experiences does have an effect (how much is unknown) on who they become.
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hoping2retire35

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2017, 10:24:06 AM »
Our kids did Montessori for a while.

DD is very gender roled. If the HS ed. people are culturally that way so will the Montessori ones be too; I think it just depends on your area and that culture transcends education, at least to an extent. If you don't want her doing that then just tell her not to, or redirect her attention. Culturally, (at least generally) we support gender roles but never told our DD anything about what to wear or do, she just picked it up from somewhere (other kids, her mom, IDK). It surprises us how much she picks up, without explicitly being told such.

Practically? With all those negatives I wouldn't do the switch; the holidays they take are a real pain. Just focus on the primary education.

historienne

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Re: Daycare > Montissori upgrade decision... what would you do?
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2017, 11:53:21 AM »
Yet another part of me looks at the strong correlations between high quality early childhood education and academic achievement later in life and says an investment now might pay big dividends later. If I'd like to see my daughter take an interest in STEM careers rather than fashion and makeup, I have to make a choice about the culture we consume now.

With respect to the first, I strongly suspect the correlation is due to the fact that the "quality" of early childhood education you can afford is generally based on your socioeconomic status, which, as we all know, is the single factor that is most strongly correlated with academic performance/test results. 

There is actually high-quality research that controls for parental SES and finds a pretty big impact of high-quality preschool on a range of long-term variables (high school graduation rates, adult income, etc).  However, the impact is much more important for children from low-SES families.  In other words, kids who are not getting enrichment at home benefit a lot from a high-quality preschool program.  It's not as clear how much it matters for kids who are getting plenty of enrichment at home.

We have never done Montessori; we do spend a shitload of money on daycare/preschool because we were not satisfied with the quality of lower-cost places.  In this case, however, I'm not sure what we would choose.  The week-long breaks would be an enormous hassle, probably a dealbreaker.  But I would also consider the ipad a dealbreaker.  Both of those things would be more important to me than the cost differential.

Gender stuff - I'd be pissed to see reinforcement of gender limitations from a daycare provider, but this is also an age at which gender stuff is a big deal for kids.  Our children are at a daycare on my university campus, they are mostly kids of other university professors, and they have a very progressive curriculum.  I know 100% that they are not getting this stuff from their teachers, or from (most of) the other kids' parents.  But my 3 year-old daughter still talks all day long about the differences between girls and boys, and it's very clear that her class self-segregates by gender for a lot of their play.  It's a developmental stage, they are figuring out their social identities, and gender is a part of that.  At birthday parties, it's me and all the other moms who are scientists, neurologists, philosophers, etc, standing around and watching our daughters play princess.